History of the Event

Dive into the rich and vibrant history of the Richmond Tattoo & Arts Convention, a prestigious event that has celebrated the artistry and skill of countless renowned tattoo artists over the years. From its inception, this convention has been a canvas for artistic innovation and a gathering place for the most talented and influential figures in the tattoo community. Join us as we explore the legacy and evolution of this iconic convention, where every year adds a new chapter to its storied past.
2023

35th Year Celebration!

Jesse Smith invites JD Crowe to co-host this year's Convention. Crowe attended the convention back in 1988 adding to our histories pre-Billy Eason era. Together they brought the Richmond convention’s 35th Anniversary! Ryan Ashley returned as a headliner. Arguably the most famous tattoo artist in the world at the time, Richmond was the only convention that she attended that year.

Crowe's participation infused the event with some heavy-hitting OG's: Inksmith & Rogers, Jack Rudy, Paul Booth, Corey Miller, 'Good Time Charlie' Cartwright, Gill 'The Drill' Montie, Juan Puente, Robert Hernandez, Dana Brunson & Shawn Barber. It was the perfect combination of old school and today's fast evolving tattoo scene: Cleen Rock One, Kevin Laroy, Josh Payne, Steve Tefft, Sara Fabel, Dave Koenig and Sarah Miller.

The Live Arts for Charity portion of the event partners up with the Richmond SPCA, raising $10,000 to benefit them!

Official convention Artwork by Dave Koenig. JD Crowe redesigned the 1989 artwork to commemorate 35 years in Richmond.
2022

After a 2-year hiatus,

due to the Covid Pandemic when the world shut down, the Richmond convention returns! Melody Mitchell, from Black Ink Crew NYC headlines the show. Unfortunately 2022 was overshadowed by the deaths of Tony Olivas and Kenny Brown. Tony was one of the founding fathers for the Richmond convention and Kenny was Jesse's partner.

The first ever Karaoke Cage Match created by Jesse Smith & Chris Trew was a hit with the crowds. And Richmond's own, Chris Adler, from Lamb of God is one of the Celebrity Judges.

Notable attendees: Cleen Rock One, Stefano Alcantara, Derek Noble, Tom Beasley, Megan Jean Morris, Cervena Fox, Amy Mymouse, Andy Chambers, Bryan Sanchez, Mike Skiver, Carlos Rojas, Jaded Moon, James Vaughn, Josh Payne, Joshua Bowers, Kiljun, Lalo Yunda, Melody Mitchell, Parry Chotipradit, Made Rich, and more! 

Convention Artwork by Dave Koenig.
2019

Ryan Ashley Headlines

At the time she is known most for being the first woman to win Ink Master. By now Jesse Smith & Kenny Brown had caught their stride putting on the convention. They invited Cervena Fox, international burlesque and fire show performer, to perform.

 
The first “Best of VA” competition is held. Nominations took place online, online votes happened for “People’s Choice” and a selected panel of judges decided on “Judge’s Choice”-
Judge’s Choice: Andy Chambers
People’s Choice: Jamie Martin
 
The 2nd Richmond Tattoo & Arts Academy takes place with Nick Baxter, Sarah Miller, Ryan Ashley, Frank LaNatra, Esao Andrews, OG Abel, Sterling Hundley & Jon Wayshak as presenters.
 
Convention Artwork by Dave Koenig.
2018

Megan Massacre Headlines

In the spirit of the original meetings of the tattoo minds that took place at the Koger Center in the 70s-80s, Jesse Smith created the Richmond Tattoo & Arts Academy. He invited some of the top names currently killing it at the time: Phil Garcia, Dave Koenig, Jose Perez, Gia Rose. Alongside super talented Fine artists: Gary Villarreal & Eliza Ivanova. 

The Street Art Festival evolves into Live Art for Charity. Invited mural artists finish their weekend-long paintings which are then put up for auction. The proceeds of which got donated to the charity: Art on Wheels, an organization that helps the elderly, disabled and chronically ill members of the community without access by providing a creative learning and therapeutic environment in which to help heal and empower them. 

Notable attendees: Tony Olivas & Bob Tyrrell return. Cleen Rock One, Derek Noble, Big Island Mike, Mike Skiver, Sara Fabel, Anthony Michaels, James Vaughn, Halo, Big Jaz, Duffy Fortner, Melody Mitchell, Lalo Yunda, Amy Mymouse, Joshua Bowers, Josh Payne, St. Marq, Richard Smith, Nate Drew and many more!

Convention Artwork by Dave Koenig.

2017

Tatu Baby Headlines

She makes history as our first woman headliner. Tatu Baby was in high demand by the public having been on InkMaster, voted as favorite by the public, and had cameo appearances on InkMaster Angels & the Black Ink Crew.

Airsex Competition makes its debut and is a Laugh-out-loud hit with the attending public. The 2nd Miss Pinup Competition is held.
Notable attendees: Kelly Dotty, JD Crowe, Phil Garcia, Scott Sterling, Duffy Fortner, James Vaughn, Miguel del Cuadro, Gunnar, Joshua Bowers, Mike Skiver, Bryan Sanchez, Andy Chambers, Dave Koenig, Melody Mitchell, Lalo Yunda, Sketchy Lawyer, Rodney Raines, Mike Devries, Jon Mesa, Chris Blinston and many more!
Convention Artwork by Dave Koenig.
2016

Passing of the Torch

Nate Drew & CJ Starkey pass the torch on to Jesse Smith & Kenny Brown. They were grateful for the honor and excitedly accepted 5 months before the convention was set. It took a couple months to get organized and they were able to pull it off in an incredible 3 months time with hard work! The two referred to themselves as the Master Blaster team and they decided to bring the event back to its original venue: the infamous DoubleTree Hotel-Koger Center.

 
The event expands outside to include a Street Art Festival component so that they could bring in artists from other disciplines. In addition, the first ever Mrs PinUp RVA competition crowns Bonnie De-Lovely.
 
Notable Attendees: Nate Drew, Dave Koenig, Cleen Rock One, Joe Capobianco, Phil Garcia, Megan Jean Morris, James Vaughn, Rodney Raines, Anthony Michaels, Sarah Miller, Mike Skiver, St. Marq, Sketchy Lawyer, Duffy Fortner, Miguel Del Cuadro, Hamilton Glass, Matt Lively and many more!
 
Convention Artwork by Jesse Smith & Kenny Brown.
2015

End of an Era

Nate Drew & CJ Starkey’s last year. Kenny Brown and the Jack Brown’s Tattoo Revival crew helped organize the show.

Notable Attendees: Oliver Peck, Jack Rudy, Tony Olivas, Shanghai Kate, Jess Yen, Chris Longo, Jesse Smith, Mark Longenecker, Rodney Raines, Mike Skiver and many more!  
Convention Artwork by Kenny Brown.

Have any photos, edit suggestions and/or info about this year? Please email them to marketing@richmondtattooconvention.com

2014

Nevermore

Notable attendees: Jack Rudy, Scott Sterling, Doc Dog, Tony Olivas, Mike Skiver, Shahn Anderson, James Vaughn, Jesse Mule, Rodney Raines and so many more!  

Convention Artwork by Rodney Raines.

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2013

Big Slick

Some notable attendees: Jack Rudy, Tony Olivas, Crazy Philadelphia Eddie, Bob Tyrrell, Scott Sterling, Shanghai Kate Hildebrant, Doc Dog, Big Gus, Marshall Bennett, Chris Longo, Jess Yen, James Vaughn & Big Jaz

Convention Artwork signed by KEETSST.

Have any photos, edit suggestions and/or info about this year? Please email them to marketing@richmondtattooconvention.com

2012

Year of the Dragon

Notable attendees: Doc Dog, Oliver Peck, Mike Skiver, James Vaughn, Rodney Raines, Jon Mesa, Shahn Anderson, Jesse Smith, Jason Stephan,  and so many more!

Convention Artwork by Brian Bruno

Have any photos, edit suggestions and/or info about this year? Please email them to marketing@richmondtattooconvention.com

2011

A New Era & the Doc Dog Roast

After the passing of Billy ‘The Bull’ Eason, Nate Drew & CJ Starkey take over the The Richmond Tattoo Arts Festival and move it to the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

Crazy Philadelphia Eddie receives the first ever BILLY EASON LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

The DOC DOG ROAST had an impressive roster of tattoo icons: Lyle Tuttle, Crazy Philadelphia Eddie, Jack Rudy, Tony Olivas, Frank Mills, Oliver Peck, Bob Tyrrell, Terry ‘Tramp’ Welker & Mike Parsons

RIP TOM PAINTER 
1953 – 2011
A staple at the convention the second of 3 generations of tattooers passes.
Convention Artwork by Brian Bruno.
2010

Billy Eason's Last Show

8th Annual Richmond Summer Show

RIP BILLY ‘THE BULL’ EASON 
1939 – 2010
Billy Eason, co-owner of the
Richmond Tattoo Arts Festival
passes away on November 23rd,
2010, just 2 days after the 18th
Annual Show.
RIP DAVID ‘CRAZY ACE’ DANIELS
1951 – 2010
That same year we lost another convention forefather. Crazy Ace took over the convention once Grandpa Groovy stepped down in 1989. He helped the Richmond tattoo scene coalesce by bringing in the likes of Ed Hardy, Lyle Tuttle and Gill Montie to do guest spots at his shop, Creative Designs. He was a catalyst for mainstreaming tattoos in Richmond, which helped grow with a new breed of really good, young apprentices who were all VCU art students.
Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.

Have any photos, edit suggestions and/or info about this year? Please email them to marketing@richmondtattooconvention.com

2009

17th Annual

7th Annual Richmond Summer Show

Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.

Have any photos, edit suggestions and/or info about this year? Please email them to marketing@richmondtattooconvention.com

2008

16th Annual

6th Annual Richmond Summer Show

 
Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.
 
Have any photos, edit suggestions and/or info about this year? Please email them to marketing@richmondtattooconvention.com
2007

15th Annual

5th Annual Richmond Summer Show

Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.

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2006

14th Annual

4th Annual Richmond Summer Show

 
Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.

Have any photos, edit suggestions and/or info about this year? Please email them to marketing@richmondtattooconvention.com

2005

13th Annual

3rd Annual Richmond Summer Show

Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.

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2004

12th Annual

2nd Annual Richmond Summer Show

In this year, Billy also held a tattoo convention in Orange County, CA called the Rock of Ages.

Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.

Have any photos, edit suggestions and/or info about this year? Please email them to marketing@richmondtattooconvention.com

2003

11th Annual

Due to overwhelming interest from tattoo artists wanting to work the annual fall show, Billy decided to host the 1st Annual Richmond Summer Show.

Convention Artwork by Aaron Fulcher.

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2002

10th Annual

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2001

9th Annual

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2000

8th Annual

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1999

7th Annual

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1998

6th Annual

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1997

5th Annual

Convention Artwork by Chris O’Donnell & Timothy Hoyer
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1996

4th Annual

Convention Artwork by Nate Drew & Timothy Hoyer

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1995

3rd Annual

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1994

2nd Annual

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1993